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Thursday, September 28, 2023

New Shands facility to improve patient care, emergency room access

The Family Medicine Center is the newest $6 million baby of the UF&Shands system. The facility, built to accommodate the changing needs of the Gainesville community, cost relatively little compared to the outlay of funds that will be spent on other medical projects in the near future.

The new 25,000 square-foot facility with 24 exam rooms will be completed and opened June 2012 at Main Street and Northeast 16th Avenue. It will replace the primary care site currently at Southwest 4th Avenue built four decades ago.

"It's at the end of its life as a building," said Dr. David Guzick, president of the UF&Shands system and senior vice president for Health Affairs at UF. "The cost of renovating that facility relative to what we could achieve functionally in a new one was just too high."

According to the strategic planning process that was published in May 2010 by the UF&Shands team, two goals in the next few years will be to spread primary care around the city and to consolidate specialty care at one site. Guzick said consolidation will provide the community with more comprehensive individual care.

Cardiology, dermatology, women's health care and the like will be at one larger 100,000 square- foot facility at a 39th Avenue site that will open a year after the primary care facility to make it easier for patients to find experts in their specific area of need.

As for primary care, a future goal is to create several other sites which will act as satellite care centers to provide more access to patients. Also, a center to serve UF faculty and staff is in the works.

Another facet of this development plan is the after-hours component, which is already serving specific groups of patients. The new Pediatric Emergency Room that opened on July 1 will see patients after regular hours for immediate attention that doesn't necessarily require emergency care, Guzick said.

Guzick says the idea is to provide different outlets of care, so that when 5 p.m. rolls around there is more than one emergency room available.

"What we're trying to do in both of these projects is realize that there are specialized needs for individual groups of patients," Guzick said.

Brad Pollitt, alumni of the UF School of Architecture, is the vice president of facilities for UF&Shands and has played a main role in projects like the new Family Medical Center. The ever-changing technology and infrastructure of hospitals, Pollitt said, is pushing more development, even as funds decrease.

Hundreds of millions of dollars were spent in the last few years on the Biomedical Sciences Building, Shands Cancer Hospital, the Pediatric Emergency Room, the Emerging Pathogens Institute, the ORTHOcare After Hours clinic, and other facilities. With the state's financial branches withering, the university and hospital must look for funding in philanthropy and loans.

Unlike some other projects, the Family Medicine Center is not designed to create more jobs, but to provide better health care.

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"Patient safety is our main priority," Pollitt said. "After that, we care about the overall patient experience and staff functionality."

The several construction projects emerging from the UF&Shands plan have their roots in the community's needs, Guzick said.

"There's advocacy within the community to do more for children, cancer patients, movement disorder patients, and there should be."

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